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BR 142 .09

Oxenham, Henry Nutcombe,

1829-1888.

Short studies in

ecclesiastical history and



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SHORT STUDIES

IN

ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY
AND BIOGRAPHY



SHORT STUDIES



ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY

AND BIOGRAPHY



BY THE

Rev. H. N.-'OXENHAM, M.A,

LATE SCHOLAR OF BALLIOL COLLEGE, OXFORD



Sonboii
CHAPMAN AND HALL, Limited

1884



[./!// rights reseri'ed.^



inngag:

CLAY AND TAYLOR, PRINTERS.



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TO

^t mx^ gcij. loljit ^Mm, g.g.,

DEAN OF MANCHESTER,

IN GRATEFUL RECOGNITION OF A VALUED FRIENDSHIP

LASTING FROM OLD OXFORD DAYS,

IS WITH MUCH REGARD AND AFFECTION
INSCRIBED.



PREFACE.

The following Essays are reprinted, by the kind per-
mission of the Editor, from the Saturday Reviezv, with
some corrections and additions, and the occasional omis-
sion of matter of merely temporary interest. In one
or two cases portions of different articles bearing on the
same subject have been incorporated. It was of course
inevitable in dealing, under the necessary limitations of
space, with themes of wide and varied import, on many
of which whole volumes might be written, that a method
of treatment should be adopted suggestive rather than
exhaustive, with a view to bringing out the salient points,
and thus refreshing the memory or stimulating the minds
of those who may lack leisure or opportunity for more
serious study. And in a busy and restless, which is
also a reading age, but is somewhat apt to regard "a
great book, as a great evil," the author ventures to hope
that to many readers such aids to their own reflection
may prove not unacceptable.

While however he has thousjht it most suitable to



PREFACE.



the character of the work to avoid, as far as possible,
all display of learning, and not to load his pages with
references, which to some might appear wearisome and
to others superfluous, it must not therefore be supposed
that the judgments expressed have been lightly formed,
or are based on authorities which have not been carefully
verified. It has been his aim throughout to offer an
honest, if but a modest and fragmentary, contribution,
as of a single stone, towards the building up of the
great temple of historic truth.



May I, 1884.J



CONTENTS.



PAGE

I. CHRISTIANITY BETWEEN TWO FOES I

II. CHRISTIAN AND PAGAN ART 9

III. CONFLICT OF EARLY CHRISTIAN AND PAGAN THOUGHT 1 7

IV. RELIGIOUS ATTITUDE OF THE EMPEROR HADRIAN ... 2/
V. HELLENISM AND ITS REVIVAL 35

VI. THE ROMAN EMPIRE AND THE CHURCH 42

VII. UNITY AND VARIETY IN CHURCH AND STATE ... 49

VIII. LATIN CHRISTIANITY ' 57

I.K. RISE AND GROWTH OF ULTRAMONTANISM 64

X. LATIN HYMNOLOGY 74

XL FOURTEENTH BENEDICTINE CENTENARY 86

XII. PROPHECIES OF THE CHRISTIAN ERA 94

XIII. LATER CHRISTIAN PROPHECIES I04

XIV. PROPHECY OF ST. MALACHY 112

XV. SOCIAL INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY I20

XVI. PENAL LAWS AGAINST HERESY ' ... I30

XVII. TOLERATION AND INDIFFERENTISM 140

XVIII. "black and BLOODY GARDINER" 151

XIX. ICONOCLAS-M 163

XX. CHRISTIAN TEACHING ON THE RIGHT OF REBELLION 171

XXI. DIVINE RIGHT OF KINGS 180

XXII. FESTIVAL OF CHRISTMAS 19I

XXIII. MIRACLE PLAYS 199



CONTENTS.



XXIV. ORIGIN AND GROWTH OF UNIVERSITIES 2o8

XXV. JEWISH PATRIOTISM 219

XXVI. THE yUDENHASS IN HISTORY 228

XXVII. REVIVAL OF GOTHIC ARCHITECTURE 239

XXVIII. INTOLERANCE OF SCOTCH CALVINISM 248

XXIX. FORCE OF INDIVIDUALISM IN RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS 259

XXX. PREACHING ANCIENT AND MODERN 269

XXXI. HUGO GROTIUS ^ 281

XXXII. SWEDENBORG AND SWEDENBORGIANISM 289

XXXIII. STRAUSS

XXXIV. JOHN BERNARD DALGAIRNS

XXXV. BISHOP DUPANLOUP
XXXVI. CANON OAKELEY

XXXVII. DR. GUMMING

XXXVIII. DEAN STANLEY

XXXIX. WILLIAM GEORGE WARD

XL. DR. PUSEY AND THE OXFORD MOVEMENT 367

XLI. THE LATE PROVOST OF ORIEL 375

XLII. ARCHBISHOP TAIT 385

XLIII. DEAN CLOSE AND THE EVANGELICALS 394



297
309
318

32s

333
344
358



SHORT STUDIES



ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY AND BIOGRAPHY.



I. CHRISTIANITY BETWEEN TWO FOES.

In an address which he delivered some years ago before
a rehgious Congress at Munich, Dr. DoUinger starts from
the assertion that by the cradle of Christian theology stood
two mighty foes, heathen philosophy and the heretical
gnosis, with both of which it had to contend, and from
both also had much to learn. No student of ecclesiastical
history will question the correctness of his statement. But
a still broader truth is conveyed in a remark we came
across the other day, which applies, not only to the early
Church, but to the whole course of Christian history from
the beginning until now. Christianity, it was observed, has
in every age been confronted by two rival religions ; its
morality has been threatened by the higher Paganism, or
worship of beauty; its doctrinal system by a scientific
Theism, or worship of what claims to be pure and absolute
truth. With both of these it has always been in conflict,



2 ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY AND BIOGRAPHY.

and yet to both it has been constrained to own its obliga-
tions ; and this mutual interchange of blows and courtesies
was never more conspicuous than in our own day. A
distinguishing feature of the last half-century has been the
revival of artistic taste and culture in the service of religion
throughout Europe, of which the so-called Ritualistic
movement is one subordinate phase ; but alongside of this
ecclesiastical restoration there has grown up a religion of
artj independent of all theological restraints, and looking on
them much as the Roman and Florentine literati of the
Renaissance looked on the reforms of Savonarola. Mean-
while the dominant scientific school is impatient of any
Deity that cannot be resolved into an impersonal abstrac-
tion, and declines to proffer more than " a silent worsh'p
at the altar of the Unknowable and Unknown." Yet, at
the same time, the exponents of the extremest form of
scientific Atheism loudly assert their claim to be the
prophets of a new and exclusively true religion. And,
however much we may smile at the half-grotesque details
of the Comtist creed, with its elaborate mimicry of the
hierarchy, the discipline, and the ritual of Catholicism, no
one can fail to be struck with so unexpected a homage to
the inextinguishable cravings of the religious sentiment,
which it as fully recognises as it entirely fails to satisfy.
Nor can the Church, which has in former periods accepted
the services of an Augustine, an Aquinas, and a Pascal,
affect to ignore in our own day the need for scientific
champions of her cause. It may perhaps be said that
these opposite forms of faith or scepticism, in whichever
light we choose to regard them, are now more confident
and impetuous in their assault than has usually been the



CHRISTIANITY BETWEEN TWO FOES. 3

case before, and that they more distinctly assume the
functions, not of mere negative criticism, but of rival creeds.
Whether or not Mr. Mill could be fairly considered a
Theist— and his nearest approach to it appears to have been
a kind of revived Manichean dualism — he inculcated a kind
of religious and ethical system of his own, often borrowing
.the language, if not the ideas, of the historical religions
which he rejected. This may also be said of some living
writers who would be classed more or less in the same
category with him. And thus again the artistic religion
of Paganism finds a passionate apologist in Mr. Swinburne.
But if there is some difference in their methods of warfare,
the same triangular duel, so to call it, between Christianity
and its two powerful rivals has been in progress continually
since the first preaching of the Gospel. The two mighty
antagonists stood, to repeat Dr. Bollinger's language, by
the cradle of the nascent faith ; but the infant Hercules
proved strong enough to coerce, if not to strangle, them, or
rather succeeded in bending them to the service of a power
yet mightier than themselves. Some change there has
been no doubt in their relative importance, as mankind has
gradually advanced from what has been termed the mytho-
logical to the physical stage. Pagan art was a far more
formidable opponent to reckon with in the first century
than Pagan philosophy ; the opposition of science, which
cannot always be thrust aside as false, gives much greater
trouble to the apologists of Revelation in the nineteenth.
Let us begin with art.

From the earliest period of which any records remain, art
has been a powerful factor in the religious development of

mankind. It has been by turns the instrument and the

B 2



4 ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY AND BIOGRAPHY.

tyrant of the national faith, or sometimes both together.
Greek reHgion, which was the worship of natural beauty,
expressed itself in those unrivalled artistic forms which
have riveted the admiring gaze of successive generations
for above two thousand years; but the chisel which wrought
so marvellously in its service was tracing the lines of its
corruption. Its most exquisite art was the efflorescence
of decay. The gods who were worshipped with sincere
devotion were the deities of Homer, not the creations of
Pheidias, and it was only by crushing the genius of its artists
that Egypt so long preserved the sombre grandeur of its
hereditary faith. Christianity could afford to be less jealous,
although the early fathers betray an uneasy suspicion of
whatever had been associated with Paganism. And accord-
ingly the Catacombs, which were the first homes and work-
shops, as well as the sepulchres, of the new religion, are pro-
fusely ornamented with sculpture borrowing the imagery of
existing forms of art. A refined and graceful Christian sym-
bolism was by degrees superinduced on these ancient models ;
but it showed nothing of that darker and sterner aspect
of Gospel teaching which was afterwards so abundantly
exhibited in churches and cemeteries ; there were no repre-
sentations of hell or purgatory, or of the Last Judgment ;
and, what seems stranger, there were at first no represent-
ations of the Passion. The fiery persecution, through which
so many of those who were thus piously commemorated
had passed to their reward, was but distantly alluded to in an
occasional picture of Daniel among the lions, or the three
holy children walking unharmed amid the flames. All this
was changed of course at a later date, and, in spite of the
triumphs of mediaeval architecture, it is true to say that, as



CHRISTIANITY BETWEEN TWO FOES. 5

the purely religious sentiment attained its ascendency in
the "ages of faith," aesthetic art on the whole declined, to
revive with the irreligious, or at least non-religious, outburst
of the Renaissance. Yet Christianity never forgot, like
narrower and more artificial creeds, that its world-wide
mission imposed on it at once the capacity and the obliga-
tion of embracing every genuine product of the human
intellect and heart. The contrast is strikingly exemplified,
if we turn for a moment to Mahometanism, which could
only hold its own against the inroads of idolatry by sternly
proscribing art. The Arabian prophet, it has been truly
said, could not prevent his disciples from worshipping
images, except by absolutely forbidding them to make
any ; and thus " he preserved his religion from idolatry, but
•made it the deadly enemy of art," as it has remained ever
since. The same criticism applies, in a more limited sense,
to the illogical compromise by which the Iconoclastic
controversy was eventually settled in the Eastern Church,
permitting pictorial, but prohibiting sculptured, repre-
sentations of sacred subjects. On the other hand, the
Renaissance was not a religious movement.' In its artistic
development there is a close analogy to what has already
been noticed in the case of ancient Greece. Instead of
using his art to do honour to religion, the painter made
religious conceptions subservient to the display of his
artistic power. The devotional and the aesthetic temper
are distinct, though not incompatible, and seldom pre-
dominate in the same class of minds. It was perfectly
natural that an ardent reformer like Savonarola should
head a crusade against a classical revival which had brought,
not only the arts, but the tastes, the sensuality, and the



6 ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY AND BIOGRAPHY.

scepticism of classical Greece in its train. It had already-
been strongly denounced, and indeed forcibly suppressed,
by Paul II., though his successors in the Roman See for
some time afterwards by no rrieans followed his example in
this respect. But neither Pope nor preacher could perma-
nently arrest the degradation of religious art which rapidly
followed, and the course of which may even be traced in a
comparison of the earlier and later pictures of Rafifaelle.
There cannot be said to be a school of religious painters in
the present day, though some of the earlier works of the
prse-Rafifaellites may have suggested an anticipation not
destined to be realised. In another department we have
indeed witnessed a remarkable resuscitation of distinctively
religious art, for it is quite true that Gothic architecture
and the love of it are intimately connected with the
Christian, as contrasted with the Pagan or secular, habit
of mind ; and Mr. Lecky is certainly right in saying that
"we mainly owe the revival of Gothic architecture to the
Catholic revival of the present century," though a party
powerful of late in the Roman Catholic Church have
betrayed their instinctive aversion to history by opposing it.
In the early Christian centuries physical science was not
sufficiently advanced to present any serious difficulties to
the Christian apologist. St. Augustine could easily dispose
of Manichean objections to the Mosaic cosmogony in a
fashion which would never occur to a very inferior class
of thinkers now ; and in the sixth century Cosmas Indico-
pleustcs — the special butt of Mr. Matthew Arnold's raillery
— carried public opinion with him when he argued against
the antipodes, in his TopograpJiia Christiana, for this reason,
among others, that St. Paul speaks of all men living "on



CHRISTIANITY BETWEEN TWO FOES. 7

the face of the earth," which proves that it is flat and not
round. It is right to add that when Virgilius, two centuries
later, maintained the existence of the antipodes, Pope
Zachary dechned to condemn him, and he became a bishop,
and eventually a canonized saint, but the religious world
of the day, which found a mouthpiece in St. Boniface, was
profoundly scandalized. We need not stay to dwell here
on the critical instance of the Copernican controversy, but
it is notorious that there has been a chronic feud between
theologians and men of science, which one class of writers
is fond of representing as the gradual triumph of science
over a dwindling supernaturalism. This is the leading idea,
for instance, frequently avowed and always implied, which
runs through Mr. Lecky's History of Rationalism. On the
other hand, as was pointed out before, if the Church has
been jealous of scientific, as of artistic, encroachments on
her own domain, she has numbered great philosophers as
well as brilliant artists among her most devoted servants.
In the fifteenth century, Christianity appeared to be engaged
in an internecine struggle with the Pagan revolt against
her ethical code ; in the eighteenth, a Deistic philosophy
questioned the primary articles of her creed. In our own
day the controversy has passed into a new phase, and
arguments which were unanswerable in the mouth of
Bishop Butler fail to convince disputants who repudiate,
not his reasoning, but the premisses admitted in common
at the time by himself and his opponents. It is not
unreasonable, however, to believe that a religion which has
survived so many open or insidious attacks will still be
equal to the crisis. A way may be found in the future, as
in the past, for acknowledging the legitimate claims of



8 ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY AND BICGRAPHY.

science, without resolving into a beautiful but visionary
Aberglaube the faith which has ennobled the life and con-
soled the last hours of sixty generations of Christians.
Meanwhile it is significant that the great master of the
positive philosophy in France should have passionately
proclaimed the indestructible necessity of a religion, while
the chief upholder of a similar system in England has left
on record his conviction that the Christian religion has
certainly been useful, if not indispensable, hitherto, and in
part at least may not impossibly be true.



n.

CHRISTIAN AND PAGAN ART.

It has been said, with some truth, that art is the bloom
of decay. There are two senses in which this may be
understood, poHtical and reh'gious. The zenith of Athenian
art coincided with the decay of pohtical power ; and in
modern Europe the highest artistic rank has been attained
by that country which was popularly said, till lately, to
be a " geographical expression," and which has over and
over again been the battle-field but never the leader of
the nations. Of ancient Rome, on the contrary, the poet's
words were emphatically verified; her "arts" were those
of conquest and of empire ; what she borrowed in her later
days from the conquered Greece never became more than
an exotic growth, and served but to grace the decadence of
her imperial might. There is of course one obvious ex-
planation of this phenomenon. A people whose energies
are absorbed in political or military struggles lack both the
time and the taste for artistic niceties ; while it is natural,
on the other hand, that where there is lese of the stir and
grandeur of national life, intellectual and artistic cultivation
should be more eagerly pursued, as the resource of facul-
ties that might otherwise lie dormant. This is no doubt,
for instance, one reason why German scholarship -and



lo ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY AND BIOGRAPHY.

literature are in many departments so far superior to our
own. But there must be some other explanation of the
fact, if such it be, of religious art — and art has been in all
ages closely dependent on religion — illustrating the decay
rather than the vigour of religious faith. To a certain
extent this is especially true of ancient art. The oldest
and most profoundly reverenced images of the gods were
little more than hideous blocks. The beautiful creations of
Pheidias or Praxiteles were admired, but not worshipped, by
a people who, to say the least, sat very loosely to their
mythological belief. Mr. Ruskin has a remark somewhere
about Christian art, w^hich points in the same direction.
He says that, so far as he has observed, the pictures which
excite popular devotion are invariably staring daubs, while
the masterpieces of Rafifaelle or Perugino are gazed at with
critical appreciation by the cultivated few, and neither
appreciated nor reverenced by the vulgar. So much as
this may at least be admitted in either case, that art is
necessarily self-conscious, whereas the natural atmosphere
of devotion is unconscious awe. It was not till they had
begun to theorize about their gods that the Greeks could
make elaborate sculptures of them ; and, with a polythe-
istic religion, to theorize means to rationalize. This need
not, of course, be the case with Christianity. Frescoes of
the " Good Shepherd," and other typical subjects of Chris-
tian teaching, were traced on the walls of the Catacombs
in the ages of martyrdom. Yet we can hardly conceive,
under any circumstances, the " Transfiguration " or the
"Sistine Madonna" being painted in those days of early
faith. It is not simply that the genius for it was wanting,
but that, if there, it would have been differently employed.



CHRISTIAN AND PAGAN ART.



That profound sense of the unseen which made the beings
of another world almost a visible presence to the primitive
Christian, and taught him to listen in each fresh political
convulsion for the tokens of the approaching Judgment,
could hardly consist with a minute attention to the details
of artistic effect. There is a great step even from Fra
Angelico to Raffaelle, and we feel at once that the artist
has triumphed over the saint.

But if in this respect there is some analogy, though it
must not be pressed too far, between Christian and Pagan
art, there are some very observable differences. The fact,
which has so often been dwelt upon, that sculpture is the
special glory of ancient, as painting is of modern, art, is at
once suggestive of some deeper contrast than meets the
eye at first sight. Many reasons may be given for the
change. The higher and more scrupulous standard of
purity introduced by the Gospel, and which shrank from
the exhibition of the nude form, is of course one of them.
Another may be found in the dread of a relapse into idol-
atry, which long exercised so marked an influence over
ecclesiastical discipline and worship, and of which we have
a permanent record in the prohibition of sculptured images,
as distinguished from "icons," or pictures, still maintained
in the Greek Church. But explanations of this kind evi-
dently do not go to the root of the matter. An observation
of Winckelmann's, quoted by Mr. Lecky, suggests what is
probably the real solution of the problem. " The supreme
beauty of Greek art," he very justly insists, "is male rather
than female." Strength, freedom, masculine grace are its
prominent characteristics. And this was only to be ex-
pected, for all genuine art is the expression of a moral



12 ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY AND BIOGRAPHY.

ideal, and the moral ideal of Paganism in its best days was
essentially masculine. Courage, independence, constancy,
patriotism, were the qualities it most highly honoured ; the
softer virtues of charity, gentleness, meekness, benevolence,
kindness, it either despised or ignored. Stoicism was the
loftiest Pagan conception of excellence, and Cicero ex-
pressly distinguishes it from all other philosophical sects
" as males differ from females." Christianity reversed all
this. Without discrediting, except in a relative sense, the
masculine virtues, it gave a wholly unprecedented import-
ance to the feminine type of goodness. Compare the
Beatitudes with the moral standard of Stoicism, or of the
best classical literature, whether poetry or prose, and they
read almost like an explicit condemnation of it. Of all the
qualities which Christ pronounced " blessed," there is not
one which the Pagan ideal would recognise as virtuous ;
there is more than one which it would reject as simply
contemptible. And the ethical ideal in either case inspired
the artistic. Sculpture was instinctively chosen by the
Greeks as best suited to the expression of masculine grace.
There was a further reason, partly growing out of the
former, which it is impossible to dwell upon, though it
cannot be passed over. The public games and the exer-
cises of the palaestra, which accustomed the Greeks to the
habitual contemplation of the nude human form, tended
to foster the masculine ideal of beauty and the peculiar
forms of vice with which it was connected in the ancient
world. And the taste thus generated sought both ex-
pression and aliment in contemporary art. The type, as
well of courage as of passion, which the Greeks desired
especially to idealize is sufficiently illustrated by the fact



CHRISTIAN AND PAGAN ART. 13

that the first statues erected by Athenians to their country-
men were those of Harmodius and Aristogeiton. It is not
a Httle curious that the type should have been so well pre-
served in the. days of Rome's lowest moral degradation in
the perfect purity of the Antinous.

The reasons which made sculpture the chosen vehicle of
artistic utterance to the Pagan are precisely those which
led Christian art to eschew it. It gave but inadequate
scope for the expression of those virtues which Christian
sentiment had learnt to canonize, and it suggested an ideal
partly indifferent and partly abhorrent to the new religious
sense. Painting, on the other hand, was admirably adapted
for bringing out those feminine attributes of tenderness,
purity, and patience which belonged to the Christian saint,
and which mediaeval piety found most perfectly embodied in
the Virgin Mother. Take as typical instances the Sistine
Madonna and the Belvedere Apollo. The one as com-
pletely satisfies the Pagan as the other satisfies the Chris-
tian ideal. Both in their respective ways are of matchless
beauty, but the one expresses devoutness, the other strength.
To the mediaeval Catholic the Belvedere could be no more



Online LibraryHenry Nutcombe OxenhamShort studies in ecclesiastical history and biography → online text (page 1 of 31)